Breeder Interview with Richard Yenchesky by Allan Reznik
Where did you grow up?
Richard Yenchesky: I grew up in Wisconsin and I attended my first dog show when I was 15. I can still remember walking into the frenetic energy and the hustle and bustle of the Brown County Expo Center.
Do you come from a doggy family? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dogs begin?
Richard Yenchesky: My first show dog was an Airedale Terrier that joined our family a few months after my first dog show visit, and I wish that I had gotten more involved at that time, but life had other plans. I started exhibiting and breeding dogs after I finished graduate school in Miami when I met Marsha Banks. My first Chinese Cresteds came home with me in 2000. I was involved with Chinese Cresteds and had several litters that produced a dozen champions under the POP prefix. In 2009, I got my first Xolo, and that would change my path in dogs to date. Once I had a Xolo, there was no turning back. I knew that this was the breed for me, so I put my time, energy, passion, and finances into them.
Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their influence.
Richard Yenchesky: I was fortunate to meet some great people in dogs over the past twenty-some years and they all contributed something to the success of my breeding program in one way or another. This list of mentors/contributors includes Gretchen Hofheins, Lou Ann King, Patty Hoover, Barbara Griffin, Susan Cassem, Frank Baylis, Florence Brown, Michael Sauve, Deb Schindle, Marco Hernandez, Diane Baker, Connie Dubois, Cindi Bossart, Lisbeth and Malin Kallunki, and Joe Joly. I am thrilled to currently have people in my life who are a huge part of the Del Rey Xolos’ success in the show ring and whelping box, including my dog partner, Erika Lanasa, and Robyn Lauck, Sue and Tony DiGiorno, Kris Horton, Katie McKewan, and Teresa Vila. I am looking forward to working in collaboration with Miguel Alonso and Silvia Tojo from Mexico in the coming years to secure healthy and sound dogs, temperamentally and physically.
The Del Rey Xolos are widely known, highly successful and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?
Richard Yenchesky: I met Sue Cassem of Ryal Greyhounds more than 20 years ago and she talked about starting with the very best in a breeding program and building from there, because you will never achieve the best by beginning with mediocre breeding stock. So, I did just that when it came time to assemble a group of dogs for my Xolo breeding program. Starting with the dogs that I imported from Mexico and Sweden was the foundation for the Del Rey Xoloitzcuintli breeding program. Lou Ann King of Loteki Papillons makes the analogy that breeding dogs is like a tapestry, and that is one of the best pieces of advice that I received. Being a visual person, it made a big impact on me. It made me really think about linebreeding as being an art. I then began doing the reading and research, and studying the actual numbers to back it up. Another sound piece of advice from Lou Ann was, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Drawing your hard lines as to what is worth working with and what isn’t is an important part of going forward. Personally, traits such as coat/skin color, coat length and texture, and size variation are areas that I will work with, whereas bad temperaments and undershot bites are deal breakers for me. I would much rather have a dog with a good temperament than a dark eye. I don’t agree with a statement that I have heard regularly about bad temperaments being excused in a “primitive breed.” I take great pride in the Del Rey Xolos being healthy dogs of sound mind and body.
I am a huge proponent of health testing and DNA testing for this breed. The typical statements made about Xolos being “a healthy” breed without any health issues are untrue. All breeds have somehealth-related problems. So, testing early and staying on top of it will only help the breed in what is still an early stage of recognition in AKC. I am proud to say that nearly 20 percent of the Xolos listed in the OFA database are Xolos that I have owned, bred, co-owned and/or have been affiliated with in some regard. Using DNA testing to know what we are working with is important to manage genetic issues. Embark has been an incredible tool, and a large percentage of their database for Xoloitzcuintli is reliant on the Del Rey Xolos for their data.
How many Xolos do you typically house? Tell us about your current facilities and how the dogs are maintained.
Richard Yenchesky: I recently moved from South Florida to Ocala, Florida, to have a more appropriate “dog house” so that the dogs would have the space I needed for them. I have several large yards, to accommodate their physical needs, and a specially outfitted dog room. I am currently housing between six and eight Xolos, and the dogs are kept as housepets, with puppies born and raised in the house. This breed really thrives as a companion and housedog and not as a kennel dog, so I do what is best for the dogs.
Who were/are some of your most significant dogs, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?
Richard Yenchesky: MBIS Ch. Bayshore’s Mole was my first Xolo; a great dog and an ambassador for the breed, which led him to becoming the first Group-placing AKC Xolo and the second all-breed Best in Show-winning Xolo. “Mole” set the bar high for my future in the breed. I looked outside the country for foundation stock to establish my own kennel. That move was outside my comfort zone, but that single action was the greatest asset to take me to where my dogs are today. That adventure and exploration paid off and I was fortunate to have imported some amazing dogs from Mexico and Sweden to start my breeding program: GCH Fullibus Aquia DOD; AKC GCH, SE CH, FI CH, DK CH, Nord CH El Huasteco Arena SOM; Ch. Luchadora Hernandez DOD; and AKC CH, SE CH Fullibus Mr Grey SOD. These four foundation dogs have been the largest contributors to my breeding program within the first and second generations.
Multiple BIS GCHG Roxom Del Rey is the most well-known Del Rey dog. He is co-owned with Erika Lanasa who handled him to his multiple Bests in Show and award-winning record. He is also co-owned with co-breeder Cindi Bossart, and was co-bred with Diane Baker. “Roxom” was Number 1 Xolo all-systems in 2017 and 2018 as well as going Best of Breed at Westminster in 2018 and 2019. Roxom is a Sire of Merit and the father to the current Number 1 Xolo all-systems, GCHB Sonadora Del Rey.
GCHS Alfta Del Rey and GCHB Sonadora Del Rey are the two top-winning Del Rey bitches. “Alfta” was owner-handled by Susan DiGiorno entirely throughout her career, winning the National Specialty in 2018 and Benelux Breed Winner during the World Dog Shows in Amsterdam. She was No. 1 NOHS Xolo as well in 2018. Alfta went Best of Breed in 2020 at the Royal Canin dog show in Orlando.
GCHB Sonadora Del Rey is currently the No. 1 Xolo all-systems, co-bred and co-owned with Robyn Lauck. Robyn handled “Dream” throughout most of 2021, keeping her in the Top 3 and the No. 1 NOHS Xolo. Co-breeder and co-owner Erika Lanasa took over at the end of the year and made her number No. 1 all-breed in record time, moving on to Best of Breed at Royal Canin and a prestigious Group 3. That night was one of the highlights of my life in dogs.
Ch. Mucho Mucho Amor Del Rey, my Bred-By bitch, made breed history in January by going NOHS Best in Show under esteemed judge Dana Cline. “Mucho” is the first coated Xoloitzcuintli to be awarded this honor. Mucho is also the tenth coated champion that I have owned and the sixth coated champion that I’ve bred. Her grandsire, Ch. Fullibus Mr Grey, was the first coated Xolo to get a Group placement.
Barbara Griffin has trained her Xolo in various areas of performance to accomplish this admirable record of titles: Ch. Mescalero Del Rey CGC, CGCA, NAJ, NA, NJP, NF, OA, OAJ, OF, BN, RN, PCD, NTD, ITD, ATD, ETD, RATI, RATN, FDC, TG-N (I think I got them all! LOL) “Mescal” is the most titled Xoloitzcuintli in AKC history. Mescal is from the first Del Rey litter of Xolos co-bred with Diane Baker, and he is the second coated male Standard to receive his AKC championship.
There is a new, promising generation of Del Rey dogs and I look forward to seeing what the future brings for them. I am so proud of the dogs and their owners/co-owners for what they have achieved. I am also honored that I am the first Xolo Breeder of Merit to receive the advanced AKC recognition of Breeder of Merit Silver. Now, onward to Gold! I want to focus on what I have been doing and continue breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments.
Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching.
Richard Yenchesky: My goal is to leave the breed in a better state than when I got into Xoloitzcuintli, so I will continue to health test, DNA test, and breed for temperament, health, and conformation. I want to continue learning about other kennels worldwide and bringing in new dogs to keep the genetic diversity, evolution, and line growth moving in a forward direction, as well as preserving the hallmarks of the breed. I think it is important to not become comfortable, but to continue to strive for better and better dogs in your breeding program, always trying to avoid becoming kennel blind. Understanding what is taking place worldwide will only make this breed better and keep it healthy.
My goal is to leave the breed in a better state than when I got into Xoloitzcuintli, so I will continue to health test, DNA test, and breed for temperament, health, and conformation.
Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two?
Richard Yenchesky: I look forward to continuing my involvement with the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America, especially at a time when the breed is growing in popularity. It is important to participate in breed-specific education for those in the fancy as well as for pet owners. My paperwork, to be a parent club-approved judges’ mentor, has been submitted and is currently awaiting approval.
Finally, tell us a little about Richard outside of dogs… your profession, your hobbies.
Richard Yenchesky: I work for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I am an avid cook and enjoy trying new things. I am always on the lookout for the best places to go in my community for food, shopping, and more. Now that I have more room, I hope to convert a space into a studio andstart making artwork again. (I graduated from the University of Miami over 20 years ago with a Master of Fine Arts.) It is just a matter of finding the time. In addition, I am hoping to do more international travel to meet more breeders worldwide and make connections. I feel very fortunate for the life that I have and the accomplishments that the dogs have garnered, but at the end of the day I am happy curling up on the couch with my beloved pets.
Del Rey Xoloitzcuintli | Richard Yenchesky
Breeder Interview by Allan Reznik